Interrupted aortic arch is when the large blood vessel that takes blood away from the heart to the rest of the body (aorta) is not fully developed.
The aorta rises upwards out of the heart, then curves down to the body (aortic arch). Three smaller blood vessels branch off the aorta to supply the head and arms with oxygen-rich blood, while the main blood vessel curves downward to take blood to the remainder of the body. If blood flow through the arch is obstructed, blood cannot reach the lower regions of the body.
Interrupted aortic arch usually occurs with other structural abnormalities.
Our Cardiorespiratory Unit regularly refers to information published by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and the Children's Heart Federation when explaining interrupted aortic arch to our patients and their families. More information about interrupted aortic arch can be found in the following two factsheets on coarctation of aorta.